Once the race started, I was able to move from 32nd to 6th in about 15 or 20 laps. Our custom engine from Performance Technology was really strong, and I felt real comfortable in the truck. Because of the high speeds, racing at Daytona is not necessarily a walk in the park. The viewers on television see a vehicle that appears fairly stable, while in actuality, the truck is buffeted by the wind, and moves around quite a bit. The high banking allows us to keep our foot to the floor pretty much the whole way around the track, lifting only to go into the pits, or to take evasive action (if necessary).
"The Geoffrey Bodine wreck happened all around us, and I could actually feel the heat from the huge fireball..."
I was very fortunate, because I pretty much avoided all the major accidents throughout the day. The Geoffrey Bodine wreck happened all around us, and I could actually feel the heat from the huge fireball seen on the instant replays. The weird thing is, a good driver doesn't panic when they see all heck breaking loose in front of them. I kept my foot on the floor, and concentrated on driving through the mess. If I were to suddenly lift and/or hit the breaks, I would have run the risk of having somebody run into the back of me, adding my truck to the list of casualties. As the big wreck happened, we had a truck slide right across the track in front of me. My windshield got oil all over it, and I hit a piece of debris on the track, knocking off part of the nose assembly. Considering the fact that this was the absolute worst wreck I have ever seen, I felt extremely lucky to remain in the race.
The wreck caused tons of damage to the catch fence in the tri-oval, forcing NASCAR to red flag the race. The race was actually stopped and the trucks had to park on the track, away from the pits. While the trucks could not get service from their pit crew, I remained in constant radio contact with our crew chief Jerry Cook (yes... he's my brother), who got the crew started on a sort of "band-aid" for the truck's nose. When the pits finally opened a couple of hours later, we got the nose fixed (sort of), and we hoped to be back in the hunt for the lead.
Volume II Pages: